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A Broadway Closing We Can All Applaud

times square people chairsMAS is pleased at the City’s announcement today that the two portions of Broadway around Herald and Times squares closed to vehicular traffic since June of last year are to be made into permanent pedestrian plazas. The goal of the Department of Transportation (DOT) pilot program was to reduce travel times around Times Square and Herald Square by eliminating the congestion where Broadway meets Sixth and Seventh avenues. This goal was achieved in part, but other direct consequences of reclaiming these streets for pedestrians, including a 35 percent reduction in pedestrian injuries, and the creation of 2.5 acres of new public space in one of the city’s densest neighborhoods, are the most exciting outcomes. MAS welcomed the experiment when it was first announced last March as a great step towards creating improved, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, and we congratulate Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today on having taken this bold step. MAS President Vin Cipolla said, “Making these two new public plazas permanent fixtures of our streets is a fantastic achievement that promotes what Jane Jacobs called the ballet of the sidewalk — the unrehearsed choreography of people moving through the city. It will be of enormous lasting benefit to New Yorkers and the vitality of our city’s street life.” Originally, the City had discussed extending the closures of Broadway further to the south, but there seem to be no plans at the moment to do so. To read more about MAS’ advocacy on New York City streetscape issues click here.